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Friday, January 9, 1998 Published at 07:15 GMT

image: [ BBC Despatches ]

A second ice storm has battered Central Canada. States of emergency have been declared in Ottawa and Montreal as more than 1,000,000 homes remain without power. Six deaths are being blamed on the storm and forecasters are predicting a third ice storm will hit the area over the next two days. Sean Eckford reports;

The storm has affected an area between Ottawa and Montreal along the border of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. By late Wednesday emergency crews had made progress in returning power to homes but after the second storm hit Wednesday night more than 1,000,000 homes in the area were left without power.

Telephone service is also down in some areas and downed power lines have forced the closure of a major highway. Municipal governments in Ottawa and Montreal have declared states of emergency, opening additional shelters and community centres.

Some people have now been without heat and light for three days. Canada's Defence Minister, Arthur Eggleton, has ordered the deployment of some 4,000 troops in Quebec.

Soldiers are also on standby to be deployed in Ontario. Among the hardest hit are thousands of dairy farms in the region.

Without power the farmers are unable to milk cows or keep their milk from spoiling. The army and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture are supplying emergency generators for as many farms as they can.

Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, says the federal government is ready to help the provinces and he's delayed the departure of a trade mission to Latin America in order to give the Premiers of Quebec and Ontario more time to deal with the emergency. And officials are concerned that the worst may not be over.

Canada's national weather service is predicting another ice storm and heavy winds will hit the area over the next two days.

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